What’s the Problem With Lena Dunham?

We Should Demand More People of Color and Disabilities on TV

lena dunhamAs if Lena Dunham, creator, producer and star of HBO’s series, Girls, hasn’t dealt with enough questions about the amount of nudity on her show (“Why are YOU nude all the time?” I’m looking at you, Mr. Molloy), now she has to deal with questions about her photos in the newly published February issue of Vogue. So what’s the problem with Lena Dunham? It turns out–gasp!–she was Photoshopped.

First, Vogue is a fashion magazine. They Photoshop every single photo, every single image, in their magazine. Dunham is no exception. She could be a bean pole and the fashion editors would have something to Photoshop. Isn’t that how the fashion world functions–nipping and tucking and pinching here and there? Everything must be so far removed from reality, and that is perfection. It’s an issue of art, of creativity, and has no relation to life as society knows it and lives it every day. This is a huge reason why people read fashion magazines in the first place–to escape reality.

I’m not familiar with the fashion world but when I look in fashion magazines, I know none of it is real. The fashion photos have been Photoshopped near to death. So why are so many people making a fuss about Dunham’s photos? Even she doesn’t see it as a big deal, because she apparently considers being on the cover an achievement of sorts, because she’s not “the typical Vogue cover girl.” What’s more, she said the Vogue staff knew what her style was and what she would be comfortable wearing for the magazine.

It’s safe to say Lena Dunham knew what sort of magazine Vogue is. A fashion magazine. She looks good on the cover, wearing a button down white shirt with red polka dots. It looks cute, it looks her. That, and her slightly befuddled expression with her fingers on the side of her head. Not that I know her, but I have watched Girls (I hated it but that’s beside the point) and seen and read her interviews. She’s clearly a bright young lady who knows what she wants. She’s articulate and unabashedly comfortable with her body, which, let’s be frank here, is not really common among women especially a woman who is average sized and not your typical model type. Aren’t we always railing about how there are no realistic-looking women on TV? So Dunham bares it all on Girls and shows up in a fashion magazine looking the way she supposedly says she wants to, and people are still complaining about her. Why, and what’s the problem with Lena Dunham?

By virtue of being in the public eye, Dunham will invite plenty of negative attention and comments about her hit series and about herself. Putting oneself out there takes guts, and from what she says in Vogue, “No matter what happens with your level of success, you still have to deal with all the baggage that is yourself,” she may look confident now, but she wasn’t always. Her growing up years may have been easier than many others but should we fault her for that? She may have reached new heights because of nepotism, with her parents being New York artists, but isn’t this quite common in this capitalistic society of ours?

I think the question should be more of, Why aren’t there other people who are even more deserving than Dunham showing off their work to the public, namely minorities and people with disabilities? I’d love to see more of that on TV. This was one of the complaints about Girls–the show did not have enough minority characters but I thought, “Ha! Hannah wouldn’t have friends who weren’t the same race as she was.” That’s what I thought of Hannah–she lives in a bubble of pure whiteness surrounded by people just like her. I was surprised people expected to see minorities on a show like Girls even if it was set in Brooklyn, in a fairly mixed area. But it’s easy to not mix with people if you don’t want to.

So, what’s the problem with Lena Dunham? Well, I’m not actually a fan of Dunham’s work. I can’t relate to her show at all; I don’t even find her funny. I saw her indie film, Tiny Furniture, years ago and remember being unimpressed. It was such a downer. I don’t have much in common with Dunham herself. But I admire her work ethic and that she’s proud of her realistic looking body, and she’s not afraid to parade around nude on TV. She definitely deserves props for that.

By Juana Poareo


NY Daily News 

On the Red Carpet

4 Responses to "What’s the Problem With Lena Dunham?"

  1. Ed   January 17, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    There’s a difference between being “confident” and being an exhibitionist.

    • Juana Poareo   January 18, 2014 at 8:06 am

      So if she’s an exhibitionist, I can think of a lot worse things than that. I find her confidence refreshing.

  2. Megan Hulce   January 17, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    In your pleasant defense of Lena, one of the first articles I’ve actually seen in her favor, did you have to repeatedly remark on how little you think of her work? Sigh. She rocks, her body and her work.

    • Juana Poareo   January 18, 2014 at 8:05 am

      I admire her work, but I don’t care for her show or Tiny Furniture but I recognize many people love her work.


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